Sweden was No. 1 on the list on a ranking that went to 199, according to a compilation by Nomad Capitalist, an Austin, Texas –based organization that helps high-net-worth clients diversify their assets and save taxes. Belgium was No. 2, followed by Italy and Spain (sharing No. 3), Ireland, Finland and Germany (tied for No. 6), Denmark and Switzerland and Luxembourg (at joint No. 8), followed by France, New Zealand (both at No. 11). The U.S. was joint No. 35 along with Slovenia, even further down the list than Canada (No. 14), with the U.K. and Australia both at No. 16. And last on the list at No. 199? Afghanistan, which was only beaten by Iraq, Eritrea, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen (all ranked No. 193) and Sudan, Iran, South Sudan and North Korea (all No. 189).
The “Nomad Passport Index” ranks passports based on visa-free travel (50% of ranking), taxation (30% of ranking), perception (10% of ranking), the ability to hold dual citizenship (10% of ranking) and overall freedom (10% of ranking). Each country’s value in each category is given the indicated weighting to achieve a country’s total score using the formula. “This index is designed to show the true value of citizenship in each country from the perspective of a high-achieving citizen who wants the freedom to minimize his or her tax obligations, diversify his or her wealth, and travel freely without judgment,” the report says. “We believe that no one should be forced to pay tax by virtue of their citizenship alone.” You can read the full list and methodology here.
Of course, many of the measures used are subjective. The world’s perception of a country (which only accounted for 10% of the score) relied on the World Happiness Report, the United Nations’ Human Development Index, and based on Nomad Capitalist’s personal experience with clients. “We believe that freedom of speech and of the press is a good thing, and imposing laws on non-resident citizens is generally a bad idea,” the report says. The index relied on data regarding mandatory military service, government spying programs, incarceration rate, and laws targeting non-resident citizens (such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), as well as the World Press Freedom Index.
However, the U.S. tied for No. 3 in a separate passport index of 199 countries based solely on visa flexibility along with the U.K., Norway, Spain, France, Finland and Denmark. In that list, by Montreal-based Arton, a global advisory firm that helps people take part in citizenship and residency programs for investors, Germany was No. 1, followed by Sweden and Singapore at No. 2. Arton ranks travel documents based on how many countries their holders can visit without having to obtain a visa in advance: The more nations you can access merely by getting a landing visa at the airport or even entering visa-free, the more powerful your passport is. On that list, Afghanistan was also last, below Paskistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia. The U.K. and U.S. shared the No. 1 spot on Arton’s list in 2015, but both were toppled by Germany in 2016.
Millionaires are on the move. An estimated 82,000 high-net-worth individuals, defined as those who have assets (including properties) over $1 million, moved from their home countries last year, versus 64,000 in 2015, according to the “Global Health Review: Worldwide Wealth and Wealth Migration Trends,” published earlier this week by New World Wealth, a market research and wealth intelligence firm based in Johannesburg, South Africa. For the second consecutive year, Australia was the No. 1 country welcoming millionaire migrants. There was a 38% jump in millionaire migrants to Australia (an estimated 11,000 last year versus 8,000 in 2015) and a 43% rise in those migrants to the U.S. (an estimated 10,000 in 2016 versus 7,000). The researchers looked at investor visa programs, via work transfers, second passports, ancestry visas, spousal visas and family visas.